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Friday, August 24, 2012
Griffin has Bakersfield hills on his mind


Jeff Griffin
Demos and shows pay the bills, but freeriding is Jeff Griffin's true passion.

For some who might not have heard of Jeff Griffin, let me give you the rundown. Griffin is a 27-year-old FMX rider who grew up and still lives in Bakersfield, Calif. Since age 5 he has been riding dirt bikes in the hills of Bakersfield, straight out of the comforts of his own garage. Growing up in a similar situation, I know what a luxury it is to be able to, at a moment's notice, throw on gear or just some boots and a helmet and go for a quick trail ride.

Making a living at freeriding really isn't a reliable career, so many riders are forced to rely on riding demos to make money. Because getting into X Games and the Dew Tour are by invitation only, riders have to hustle as many demos or shows as they can throughout the year. Doing so allows riders to focus on hitting the hills after a fresh rain in the winter. Recently, Griffin had the opportunity to hit a solid 2½ weeks' worth of shows, including one for the "Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D" premiere in Los Angeles.

Appreciating all the shows he gets throughout the year, Griffin still looks forward to riding in the hills. Last winter saw some really cool jumps come out of the Bakersfield area. A massive right hand step up hip that looked like the rider was 70 or 80 feet in the air from the bottom of the jump. This was just one of the eye-popping jumps to come from last winter's season.

Come this winter be sure to look out for some serious riding videos and pictures of Griffin and Garret Ahlf, another local, out in the Bakersfield hills. With the freeriding season around the corner I spoke with Griffin to get a chance to know him a little better.

ESPN.com: How's 2012 been going for you?
Griffin:
It's been pretty good to me. It started off a little slow, but things started picking up for me around April, which usually is the case anyway. By June I was right back where I like to be: always on the go and making money.

What are some of the shows you have been riding?
Most of them have been monster truck demos, with a few stand-alone freestyle shows. I also recently did the "Nitro Circus 3D" movie premiere demo [Aug. 7].

How was the "Nitro Circus" demo?
It was a good time for sure. It was in downtown Los Angeles, right in front of the ESPN building and Staples Center. It was a quick 15-minute riding session, basically just to give a little extra something for the fans before the big movie premiere.

Jeff Griffin
"All in all, it’s what I love doing and wouldn’t have it any other way," Jeff Griffin says about traveling and riding in shows.

It was a lot of fun being in that type of environment, with the whole crew of NC watching and being in the heart of the L.A. streets. There was also a good group of riders who rode the show that made it much more Nitro. Just like the crew wanted.

[Travis] Pastrana did some announcing for the event, and also Cam Sinclair did a tandem flip with [a woman] on the bike that Travis picked out of the crowd. It was pretty cool seeing that for the first time.

Was that your first time seeing Nitro Circus 3D?
Yes. It was the premiere of the movie. So it didn't come out in theaters until the following day.

It was cool to be a part of being one of the first viewers of the movie before it was open to the public. I also had a small shot in the movie from some older stuff we filmed when we did the whole monster truck/dirt bike jumping scene from Nitro Circus 6, I think it was. I was pretty pumped when I saw it. I was like "Yes, I made a movie that is in theaters."

Anyways, the movie itself was badass. They do some stunts in there that are really mind blowing and can be super dangerous when a mistake is made. They definitely put a lot of work into the film, and it is some of the best stuff I've seen. With it being 3D it makes it that much more realistic feeling, as if you were there, or have bikes flying at you from some of their angles.

Are you back on the road doing shows?
I still have quite a few more shows left this year, but it definitely is going to start slowing down. I just got home from being on the road the last 2½ weeks. I did some shows in Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Northern California, I was pretty busy. I jumped eight different setups in that amount of time. Some were sketchy and some bitchin'.

All in all, it's what I love doing and wouldn't have it any other way. So I try to remind myself to always have a good time because I know it's not going to last forever, but it's what I've worked for, it's what I do, and it's who I am.

Jeff Griffin
Jeff Griffin, 27, has been riding the hills around Bakersfield, Calif., since he was 5.

Since I was around 7 years old, all I've known is traveling every weekend and living out of hotels. It started from BMX racing (7-13 years old) to motocross (13-17 years old) to FMX (17-present). So I try and never take it for granted. I know all good things must come to an end, but for now I'm pinning it &

You live in Bakersfield next to some prime riding hills, how long have you been riding out there?
Since the first time I threw my leg over a bike. I started riding around the age of 5, in the hills of Bakersfield. I've always been able to ride straight from my house. I'm on the pavement for maybe a minute until I hit the dirt.

When I decided to move out, my biggest thing was not being able to ride from where I live to the hills. So when a house four doors down when up for sale, I jumped on the opportunity. So I'm still on the same street I grew up on, and still ride straight from my house.

I saw pictures from last year and it looked on point, do you have any plans to do much freeriding in the winter?
For sure, I'm definitely looking forward to it. The best times I have on my bike are out here in the winter. The last two years the hills have really changed.

Jason Byrd is the man behind the shovel, making all the new lines and older jumps better than they've ever been. You'll see some jumps that looked like they were made with a tractor, but really it was Byrd-man's hours and hours of shovel work.

Last year it was kind of a free for all riding out there. Anyone from mountain bikers, to dirt bikers, joggers and kids rallying their cars could go out there. This winter will be a different story. Fences are going up and the idiots will be kept out.

The cops won't be out there but there will be a form of security. Only with permission will you be able to ride out there. So if you missed out last year, you should link up with us this year, before it's too late and the open gates are locked forever.

Well, it was good talking to you and good luck with the rest of this year and I'll hopefully see you in the hills this winter.
Thank you, likewise! Special thanks to: Sullen Clothing, Troy Lee Designs, etnies, Pro Taper, Maxima, Works Connection, Deft Family, Excel Rims, RK Chains, Wyvern Motorsports, Mentom Eyewear, Lockstraps, EBR Performance, American Fabrication, Shifty illusions, Moto-Gate and MotoLife.